It all started with a goodbye
When Celeste first released, the dev team knew that the main character, Madeline, wasn’t straight. They knew she was queer in some way, but hadn’t figured out what exactly the situation was.
Fast-forward to Celeste’s Farewell DLC, and the team had pieced the puzzle together. This is when everyone involved with the game knew that Madeline was trans, and they even slipped in some subtle nods in the game’s final moments.
In an interview with IGN, Celeste creator Maddy Thorson spoke about not having a clearcut story or narrative to tell at first, but how a story came together as development continued.
“We didn’t really have a plan. I mean like, at first, we didn’t even have a story. We got to Chapter 3 before we even had the story coming in, and the story very much came from the mechanics. But then at a certain point, the story started becoming the heart of the game and we started turning it around, where everything else was taking cues from the story, which was very unusual for us in the way we made stuff until then.”
Madeline’s in-game journey very much mirrors that of Thorson as well, who realized through the game’s development that they were trans as well. Thorson noted that she was writing Madeline through her own perspective, which eventually helped her realize her personal journey.